Culture Writers Heidi Downing and Rani Jadfa review musical parody Stranger Sings finding it to be an overall comedic success


Perspective One: Heidi Downing

Stranger Sings is a new award-winning parody musical based on popular supernatural horror Netflix series Stranger Things. Jonathan Hogue’s new musical is playing a limited run at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre before embarking on the rest of the UK 2024 tour including venues like Bournemouth, Sheffield, and Portsmouth. This comedic re-telling of the science-fiction show we have all grown to love will transport you on an eighties-fuelled journey directly to Hawkins and leave you laughing at the accuracy of characterisations and costume design.

Leave you laughing at the accuracy of characterisations and costume design

With a small company, Director Ellis Kerkhoven made the decision to have a multi-roling cast which is an effective way to show off the exceptional talent of all actors involved who get to perform various impressions of the Hawkins crew throughout the performance. Anna Amelia impressively showcased ability to play Nancy, Eleven and Robin, giving each character individual edge and flair. Amelia’s multi-rolling also provides interesting commentary towards gender roles within the original show emphasising the prioritisation of male centred narratives within established sci-fi genres.

It is obviously a challenge to capture the original plot line exactly resulting in the occasional logic leap

Stranger Sings mainly focuses on parodying the first season of the hit Netflix show with occasional intertwining moments that nod to popular characters and references from later series, such as a small scene set in ‘Scoops Ahoy’ to show the iconic costumes of Steve and Robin. With a musical with the running time of roughly two hours it is obviously a challenge to capture the original plot line exactly resulting in the occasional logic leap. This means the plot might be harder to follow for people who are not fans of the original show it is based on. However, with so many upbeat songs and dance routines, such as ‘Crazy’ – a Winona Ryder inspired fever dream of a musical number, it is hard not to leave the theatre having a good time.

Overall, this musical is a successful parody with upbeat dance routines, plenty of comedy and accurate characterisations and impersonations. Whether or not you are a fan of the show you are sure to have an enjoyable experience.

Rating – 4/5

Perspective Two: Rani Jadfa

Stranger Sings: The Parody Musical is a fun-filled night out with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as it uniquely interprets the original Netflix show by not taking itself too seriously.

My advice to anybody going to see this show: embrace the weird as soon as you can

My advice to anybody going to see this show: embrace the weird as soon as you can. The title Parody Musical does enough to tell you that it is not an exact remake of Stranger Things itself. It is supposed to be satire, slapstick and silly to contradict the dark intensity of the beloved TV show. And because of its cult following, I think it shows how much people love the original show as they are willing to poke fun at it and the Duffer Brothers should take it as a compliment.

One thing that was a perfect ode to the original show was the scarily accurate characterisations: from Joyce’s sporadic smoking (Verity Power) to Hopper’s action-man walk (Howard Jenkins). Most of the cast impressively played multiple characters and I have to give a specific shout-out to Alfie Doohan, who seamlessly captured the bad-boy, jock energy of Steve along with the waddling, voice-cracking Jonathan (PLUS the evil Dr Brenner) to the extent that I was none the wiser until I looked at the cast list in the interval.

However, my favourite moment had to be the reveal of the Demogorgon as I almost snorted out my J2O in the middle of Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. This was because of the slapstick comedy, and it worked really well for the musical theatre genre: to entice audiences for an adaptation, you have to do something different, and this medium allowed the creators to heighten the comedic elements of Stranger Things rather than the darkness, which I argue was the right choice.

Nevertheless, this show was definitely for the fans as it was jam-packed with iconic references to all four seasons along with some deep cuts that only true fans could understand and may even require a second viewing to gather them all.

Rating 4/5 

Stranger Sings is running at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on the 16th and 17th of January 2024. 

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